So, we’ve been talking about getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. (What?! You didn’t read that post?! You can: here. ) And since it is March (Spring) Break here in the big city, lots of people are heading out to do some stuff with the family. I thought it would fun to think of some things that might just push you a little out of your happy place and experience something new. Maybe even inspire you … and me … to get out there.
10. Visit a Tourist Attraction In Your Hometown.
Okay, this doesn’t seem like it might drive you out of your comfort zone. However, they say you should take a “stay-cation” in your own city and really discover your own hometown. When’s the last time you went to the local tourist attraction? And not when visitors came … just you! You drive by it, you hear about it, you see it advertised … but when is the last time you went? A school trip maybe when you were little? Me too. It’s fun to go to new places and visit, but familiarity is comforting, remember? Try some of the comforts of home.
9. Go to a Sporting Event.
Maybe this one doesn’t apply to you either. You have season’s tickets and you go to the game all the time. Okay … so try a new game. Learn something new. Or check out a community team with some not-so-professional players. Or a special needs event — you will learn what real sportsmanship is there! Go to that nephew’s little league game. It’ll make his day! Be sure to go if there is a once in a lifetime event happening in your city … the Olympics or PanAm Games or Expo. Memories will count when you tell your grandchildren you saw so-and-so run that race way back when. Or, if you are like me and rarely go to the game because you are just not that sporty person … go with someone you love, just because they want to go. It’s about the relationship, not the event. Cheer for the opposite team. *wink*
8. Visit a Farm.
Remember the experiences of the city mouse? You appreciate home when you see the other side of things. Besides, farms are fun. I was shocked when we took a neighbour to our local “pick-your-own” and he was super excited to steal a berry or two off the bush and eat it right there in the field! It’s important to teach our city kids where our food comes from. To see it fresh. To eat it off the tree or pull it from the ground. To smell the smells of the farm (yup… those smells) and pet those wet cow noses! I know some city families who chop down their own Christmas trees as part of their Christmas traditions. We pick out our pumpkins for Halloween every year with grandma. Farms force us to slow down and appreciate the conveniences of the city. Once you have picked all those berries try making your own jam or preserves. Make a new tradition.
7. Take a Hike.
I admit, this one isn’t a “new” for our family. We go for walks all the time. Sometimes in the city proper, sometimes in parks and green spaces. Occasionally, I have to be dragged out though. Especially in winter when it is warm and cozy inside. Literally out of my “comfort zone” to the great wilderness. But I go, because it is one of my husband’s favourite things to do. Ask any of our friends. They’ll tell you he’s a walker. Hikes can refresh and challenge you. Especially if you work in the concrete jungle cooped up in an office somewhere on the 21st floor. Fresh air is helpful, they say, to clear your mind and get some new perspective. The dog might appreciate it. The kids might sleep better after a long hike. And if it is available in your city … challenge yourself, physically, with a mountain range or marathon or something. Hmmn. Might have to work on this one after all.
6. Get Out on the Water.
Our city has a great beach. Boardwalk, with ice cream and sand and everything. Many picnic nearby in the summers and watch the sunset over the horizon. Boat. Fish. Pretend you are a pirate. Learn to canoe or sail or skip rocks. Maybe your city doesn’t have a large body of water close by. Cross a river or a brook or jump in puddles in your local green space, or after a rain on the concrete sidewalk! Our guys once ran around in a giant rain storm splashing and laughing in the puddles — the neighbours thought our family was crazy. Appreciate the water and all that it means. Many don’t have clean water. The cities often pollute it terribly. Be reminded of those luxuries you have in the developed world.
5. Try new Foods.
One fabulous thing about living in the big city is the plethora of restaurants! You could try a new place every day and never get bored. If you are in a multi-cultural city like ours, you can try a host of new and exotic foods! Just the other day, my eldest daughter and I found a grocery store with all kinds of foods from all over the world! Shop or dine at a new location. Meet some new friends and have them take you to an authentic restaurant from their native homeland. Many cities have ethnic markets or local cultural festivals where food is plentiful. Go to one! Step out and try a new recipe to go with that homemade jam from the farm!
4. Hone in on History.
This one is not one of my preferred activities. It’s a personal “comfort zone crossing” I have to work on. Maybe if I lived in Rome, I could appreciate some city history. Museums are okay — but sometimes I skip through and don’t take the time to read all the fine print. If I did, it might enlighten me about some of the unique history of my fair city. Ancient visitors and old ghost stories. Battles won and lost here on the land where my feet tread day after day. How my neighbourhood and local school was once on Native land. Pop culture icons who visited “back then”. How times have changed along with the fashion and architect of the city. Urban sprawl and all that.
3. Let your Art out.
This one is a bit easier for me. A bit harder for others. I like art. Even if it is not my “taste” in art, I can appreciate the efforts of the artist. Cities are great breeding grounds for all kinds of art and culture. Theatre. Music. Visual Art. Cities usually have something to appeal to almost any taste. As city dwellers we should take advantage of all those fringe benefits. My husband once took me to see the musical CATS when we were dating. I am sure he hated it. He goes with our youngest daughter to “the painting place” because she enjoys creating something. My son just informed me we have something called “graffiti alley” in our city. I have lived in this city my whole life. Never heard of it until today. Art is cool. Learning to appreciate creativity and another person’s tastes is even cooler.
Shy introvert, this one is for you. Nothing humbles you more than playing with some kids. Many cities have an abundance of activities for little ones. It can be as simple as swinging as high as you can on the swings of your local playground, or walking across those stepping-stones in the stream. Maybe it’s going to the painting place and creating a masterpiece with your youngest. Dress up. Blow bubbles. Build a snowman. Giggle and play “Truth or Dare” and “I Spy”. Don’t have kids? Borrow some. (Trust me — the parents will totally appreciate a day off!) See the sights and sounds of the city through a child’s eyes. Go to the circus or an amusement park with your niece, nephew or cousin. Be silly. Have a tea party. Build a Lego castle. Eat ice cream and candy till you puke. (That’ll send you over the comfort zone edge!) Okay, don’t do that one. But you should definitely play. Just because it is fun.
1. Have a Pajama Day.
This one might be easier for some of us. Others have a hard time with the ultimate comfort of those jammies! Many of us struggle with the day-to-day busyness of our lives. The to-do list that never seems to end. I am the ultimate homebody — but even when I stay inside for the day, I have a list of things to do … clean a closet, work on a crochet project, put the dishes away. Once — when the kids were younger, we had a pajama day. We didn’t get dressed. We had nowhere to go and even though I had lots I could have done, I was resolved to focus on my relationships with my family and build those bonds that day. We baked and played board games and laughed and giggled and danced to music. Daddy was forced to change back into his pajamas when he arrived home from his board meeting (boy, was he stepping out of his comfort zone, let me tell you!) and soon joined in the fun.
Living in the big city we have lots we could do, but lots that we don’t do. When’s the last time you took time to just sit? To marvel at God’s world even among the skyscrapers? To appreciate something as simple as clean, running water? To create. To savour the sweet aroma and taste of good food. To giggle and cheer and scream out loud? To make memories. To connect with our close friends and make new ones. To learn and appreciate your past and invest in your future. To love your family. We are told in James 4 that we are “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”. Let’s make the most of it while we are here!